I Laughed At The Jokes White People Made About Me. I’m No Longer Laughing.

In 2012, I joined Instagram, and I was scared to tell my mom. Not because I had photos to hide — though I did risk her being disappointed in their oversaturation and how much I relied on the Valencia filter — but because I was worried about how she would react to my handle: @risa_boyce. 

Growing up, I’d always wanted a nickname. I finally got one in college when my friends started calling me “Risa.” It didn’t matter to me that “Risa” was based on the joke that because I am half-Asian, I shouldn’t be able to pronounce my L’s correctly. (I don’t speak any Japanese, never mind have an accent.)  

And I refused to think about the fact that when my brother and I were born, my obaachan asked my mom to give us names without L’s or R’s so she wouldn’t have to fight against unfamiliar sounds to say her grandchildren’s names.  

I had heard this particular joke about my name for years — of course I had. My high school had a sizable Asian population, but…

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